The Role of the School in Reporting Child Abuse

Currently throughout the United States, all teachers, aides, school coaches, counselors, and healthcare professionals are mandated reporters, yet many professionals fail to make reports of child abuse for a variety of reasons.   Most commonly, teachers, counselors, and other faculty decide not to report suspected child abuse because of a few simple misconceptions and a lack of education on reporting procedure, all of which can be simply remedied.  Information provided to school faculty should be comprehensive and easy to follow.  Our resource for Mandated Reporters can serve as a simple guide for anyone entering a position in schools.  Here are a few simple solutions to remedy underreporting in schools.

  • Making a report with CPS.

Many teachers and faculty cite a lack of knowledge on the reporting process as their reason for failing to report suspected child abuse.  The information required for making a report is actually simpler than many think.  The information necessary to include in a report is:

  1. The child’s name
  2. The child’s age
  3. Address where the child can be located
  4. parents’ names, phone numbers, and addresses if known.
  5. Type of abuse suspected: neglect, physical, sexual, or psychological abuse, or other form of maltreatment
  6. Alleged perpetrator (In most cases the person reporting will not have this information.  It is crucial that the reporter does not make an unfounded allegation: if there is no particular person suspected, then this information can remain blank. If there is any suspicion, however, it should be included.)
  7. Specific indicators of the maltreatment.
  8. Whether this is an emergency, if the child is in imminent danger.
  9. Name, phone number, and address of the reporter. Some states allow for anonymous reporting, but all have laws protecting reporters from being exposed to the alleged perpetrators.

This information reveals that the reporting process is simple and that anyone with the basic information on the case can file a report.

  • Level of Proof Required

Others report that they do not report child abuse because they do not feel they have established proof that abuse is occurring.  It is the responsibility of CPS to establish proof, not the reporter.  The reporter only needs to make their report in good faith, meaning that they had reason to suspect abuse may be occurring and made a report with intent to help the child, not to harm anyone.

  • Penalty for Not Reporting

Other professionals believe that reporting is not their place as school faculty: that the school’s policy is not to get involved, that reporting may damage the student/teacher relationship, or that it is not their place to report child abuse.  The truth is quite the opposite.  It is a legal requirement of school faculty to report suspected child abuse, and no school policy can override the legal requirements of a mandated reporter.  Nearly every state has a penalty, be it a misdemeanor to a felony, for mandated reporters who neglect to report signs of abuse.  The number of liability cases in civil and criminal court is rising steadily, and these lawsuits cost both the institutions and the individuals large sums of money.

Using our simple comprehensive resource, the entire staff and faculty of the school can count themselves as mandated reporters.  Teachers, Administrative Faculty, Custodial Staff, all employees of the school can become reporters and be educated on the signs of child abuse.  Enforcing mandated reporter laws in your school district can save the lives of children and prevent further abuse.  That resource can be purchased here. 

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